Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I like Thomas. I mean, I really LIKE Thomas! This guy always gets a bad rapp. He is usually attached to an epithet that I don’t think he deserves. This is the guy in the New Testament who usually is called “Doubting Thomas”. I think he should be called “Thinking Thomas”. He was one of the twelve. He was faithful to Jesus all throughout his ministry. He was one whose feet our Lord had washed. He was one of the fellows whom Jesus chose, after having prayed all night to his Father, to be Apostle-Prophets -- the special instruments whom He would send into the world to establish and publish the Christian Faith. But he wasn’t present, according to the testimony of the eye witnesses, at the empty tomb on Resurrection Morning. He had put his reputation on the line and had given about three years of devotion to one who wound up being crucified, an abomination to a Jew (“Cursed is every man that hangeth on a tree.” Deuteronomy 21:22; Galatians 3:13). He had run away from it all in fear and disappointment. And now, he was being asked to believe that Jesus was alive again, bodily risen from the grave. He didn’t want to believe something ridiculous. He must have been wondering how he was going to cobble his reputation with the Jews and his business back together and get on with his life. This account is in John chapter 20.

But the thing about Thomas that is so important to me is that he said “I will not believe unless I see evidence. My belief, my faith, must be based on hard evidence.” Jesus gave him the evidence he demanded. You can read about it yourself. But he did not condemn him because he took this stand. He said, “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed.” That is exactly why the others believed. They were all eleven (Judas being excepted) witnesses to the death of Jesus Christ, and now they see Him bodily alive.

Thomas is mentioned once again in Acts chapter 1, but afterward fades into the background. But tradition says he went to the East preaching and establishing churches. He wound up in India where he was eventually killed for his testimony. Whatever the details are, his witness to Jesus Christ and His message was the same as that of the other apostles. I say this because in the Lord’s prayer for these chosen instruments, He asks the Father to make them one, even as He and the Father were one. And in John chapters 13-16 He says things to these men like, “I have chosen you” to accomplish certain things. “I have ordained you” to do these things etc. He states that He will accomplish his purposes through their agency after He returns to the Father. He even indicates in several places that when they would ask God for something in carrying out their commission, they would do this because both their asking, and the answer would have been previously ordained by God. Or that when they made a decision, the decision would actually be Christ working through them to continue and establish the work He had begun. (Matthew 18: 19-20 for example.) All that tells me that from the beginning our Lord chose Thomas as an instrument by which to accomplish His will, and that He did just that. But one of the things He used in Thomas was his refusal to “just believe” apart from evidence.

The statement “Faith is believing something that you know damn good and well is not so.” has been attributed to Mark Twain. In other words, in this view, Faith is non-evidential, contra-evidential, irrational. I agree that faith in astrology, Darwinism, world religions of what ever sort, are exactly this kind of faith. But this is exactly what faith in the Bible and its Christ is not. B. B. Warfield, professor of Polemic Theology at Princeton in the nineteenth century said that faith in the Bible and in Christ is “confidence based on evidence.” This is what Thomas wanted. This is why I like Thomas.

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